Monday, August 2, 2010

How the Bible Speaks to Panic

Someone from another website asked me which Bible verses speak specifically to the kind of fear involving panic disorder.

Panic disorder is an anxiety-related disorder. It comes under the heading of Understanding Anxiety on the Anxiety Disorders Association of America website, Part of the definition of panic disorder is the fear of a recurring attack. The Bible speaks both to the fear of physical attacks from enemies, and also to mental attacks such as intense anxiety and fear. Although I feel all the verses I've posted on this blog speak to anxiety and panic, I thought I would post my answer to this question here as well as on the other website.

Mark 14:33 says about Jesus, "He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified…." (Holman Christian Bible) "to be deeply distressed and troubled…" (NIV Bible) A more indepth translation from the Greek dictionary of "to be deeply distressed and troubled" is to be overwhelmed, distressed, alarmed. This is from the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible. I have felt deeply distressed, troubled, horrified, alarmed, and overwhelmed during a panic attack. I have been encouraged to know that Jesus struggled in those last hours in the Garden of Gethsemane but after praying to His Father in Heaven, He arose strengthened and resolved to submit to the perfect will of God. Max Lucado talks about His victory in his book, Fearless.

Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, Abba, Father." The Greek word for fear in this verse means terror, dread, terrible; the verb form means to flee or run away from. That's exactly how panic made me feel. I wanted to run and find some place to hide.

Psalm 94:19 "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Those of us who have experienced panic know all about anxiety being "great within me". God's consolation when we cry out to Him in prayer (praying His Word) and supplication is His love, peace, and joy.

Isaiah 35:4 "Say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come….He will come to save you." The Hebrew word for fearful and fear in this verse means to be dreadful…terrify…make afraid; the emotion and intellectual anticipation of harm. This definition comes from the Complete Word Study of the Old Testament.There were many days when I walked around feeling something bad was going to happen any minute. I anticipated disaster.

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." The Greek definition for fear in this verse means to shrink for fear. I experienced this kind of fear during my first or second year of panic back in 2002 or 2003. One day my husband tried to coax me out of the bedroom because I had begun to believe the bedroom was my only safe place. I can still remember almost crossing the threshold and then I pulled my hand out of his and told him I could not do it. I could not make myself leave that room no matter how hard I wanted to leave it.

Isaiah 43:1 "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." The word fear in this verse is the same Hebrew word as in Isaiah 35:4 above.

Philippians 4:4-6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This verse obviously speaks to anxiety.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


Jessica said...

This post brought me to tear. I'm pregnant so its possible its just hormones. But I can sympathize with your fear. I remember not wanting to leave my house because I feared the panic attacks. Reading the verses you posted brought me to tears, bc for me too God's Word comforted me and still does when I feel anxiety rearing its ugly head.

Joni said...

Aren't you grateful for God's Word? It's the only thing that speaks to me--that can override my own thoughts. His Word brings me nearer to His Presence when anxiety is trying to separate me from Him.